How sentimental are you?
The universe must have elected me to some office I didn’t know about this week. Wednesday evening I got home and there was a smashed animal in the street in front of our driveway. I scooped that up, triple-bagged it, and threw it out. I recognized it as the adorable bunny that’s been nibbling clover blossoms in our back yard.
Then Thursday morning as I rode into the courtyard of the building where I work, I noticed a dead rat on the sidewalk. We have some hawks or falcons or some other kind of raptors on campus so it isn’t uncommon to find a dismantled animal there. But this one, while the object of attention for three crows, was mostly intact. The sequence of events was probably raptor, crows, guy on bicycle.
I scooped up the rat, triple-bagged it and threw it out. And my first thought on seeing it was; “Hey, one less rat. And a big one, too.”
Except, on closer examination, I could see this was a mama rat, which had recently been nursing pups. I pictured a litter of tiny ones, eyes barely open, waiting for mama – and she doesn’t come back. Poor little cute baby rats.
Except wait – they’re rats! Shouldn’t I want them dead by whatever means?
Well, no. I can hardly even bear to think about those glue-traps for mice, for example. And the plight of the little baby rats does bring me sadness. But sentimentality is one facet of the 21-sided die that is irrationality. I would never think of killing a squirrel, but they’re basically rats with bushy tails. Well, it’s more than that; instead of skulking around in the shadows and fouling grain elevators, squirrels put on acrobatic shows in the quad outside our building. So behavior matters.
But still… poor little cute baby rats…